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Where are they now?

Meet some of our wonderful former interns! 

Katie Needles, April 2017

   "My internship at FKWBC was an incredible experience and I still                 cherish my memories of my summer in the Keys. 

    I interned at both the sanctuary and the hospital so I learned both             sides of the whole operation. Taking care of the permanent resident           sanctuary birds, going on rescues, feeding baby birds - every part was     just as rewarding as the next. I left my internship with a fish bucket full     of experience and some life long friends.

   My advice to anyone thinking of applying for an internship with the            FKWBC crew is...DO IT. It’s an experience that you can’t regret. You will      learn more than you can imagine and have some incredible                        experiences. 

This internship made me realize my true passion for conservation and

rehabilitation. I now work at the Raptor Education Group, Inc. (REGI) in

Wisconsin where I get to continue my work with wild bird rehabilitation

and lend a hand in training education ambassadors!" 


Erin Riley, August 2017

"Interning at the FKWBC was the most life-changing thing I’ve ever done, and as a homebody living fourteen hours away from the Keys, it was also one of the most drastic. I’d conducted bird research in the field and taken care of exotic birds at an aquarium, but this internship was my first experience with wildlife rehabilitation. Immediately, I was hooked. 

Rescuing an animal in need, helping it back on its feet, watching it return to the wild--there’s just something about saving a creature that likely would have died without your help that's pure magic to me.

                                                After interning at the FKWBC, I traveled to Noble, Oklahoma for another                                                     wildlife rehab internship at WildCare Foundation. After that internship                                                       ended, I switched gears and got a job as a veterinary technician, and I've                                                   been doing that ever since! Working in wildlife rehab definitely gave me                                                   skills and experience that made the transition much easier; I came in already familiar with things like patient restraint, checking fecals for parasites, looking at PCV and TP, and knowing a good number of medications the veterinary clinic used. I even got the chance to teach my coworkers a thing or two I learned from FKWBC--like how towel burritos (or just towels in general) are your best friend for small, feisty critters, and using the "Pelican Hold" (basically just sitting on them) for bigger critters!


My favorite memory from FKWBC was rescuing a Great White Heron

the night of Owl-o-Ween. The Heron had been standing underneath a

pier for hours on end without moving, and when I got there a kind

bystander let me borrow his long pool net to reach underneath the pier

while he used a flashlight for me to see. Thanks to our teamwork, I was

able to scoop him out of the water and safely bring him to the center so

we could fatten him up. After he'd regained his strength, I ended up being

the one who got to release him. The best part about that night: I was still

fully in costume when I rescued him, creepy mime makeup and tutu and all!"

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Mitchell Schooler, August 2017


"My favorite memories of FKWBC will always be feeding the Permanent Resident Brown Pelicans; tossing fish to them was always fun and it always opened up a great education opportunity if there were guests present.


                                                         After my time at FKWBC (which I have fond memories of), I took part in                                                            two different internships with the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. My first                                                                internship was with the Attwater's Prairie Chicken Conservation                                                                        Breeding Program helping raise and take care of hundreds of chicks for                                                          the summer before they would be taken to the wildlife refuge. My                                                                      second internship with Fossil Rim Wildlife Center was with the                                                                          Children's Animal Center helping take care of a variety of animals,                                                                    educating the general public, and taking part in a number of fun holiday                                                          events. After my time with Fossil Rim I landed a job at a newly opening private zoo called Aggieland Safari as a zookeeper. I enjoyed a number of months there, helping the Safari with opening and it's first few months. I then returned to Kentucky and took a job with PetSmart while looking for another zookeeper job when the full force of the pandemic hit. Right now it's not where I expected to be, but I am enjoying taking care of the animals here, helping and teaching the public about how to care for their animals, and am on the fast track to becoming a manager.


My advice to future interns would be to take every opportunity that you can and make the most of the time you have there."

Carly Martenson, September 2017


"Since interning at FKWBC, I’ve moved to California and was recently working with Northern spotted owls in old-growth redwood forests. In my free time, I continue to volunteer

at wildlife rehab centers and bird

banding stations.



I have such fond memories of interning at

FKWBC particularly “peli parties”, going on

exhilarating bird rescues, and eating too

many donuts!"


Jesse Beck, December 2017


"After I earned my degree, I had been involved in a range of ornithological research projects until my 50/50 internship with the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center.  FKWBC allowed me to diversify my skill set by introducing me to both wild bird husbandry and rehabilitation practices.  I was taught how to provide daily care for the sanctuary residents, read avian behavioral signals, prepare a variety of diets for different taxonomic groups, gavage patients, palpate for fractures, recognize signs of a distressed bird and a host of other valuable tasks. 

One of my favorite components of this internship was the variety of taxa the FKWBC team was responsible for on a day-to-day basis.  In my previous research-based positions, I normally worked with a specific species or a small group of similar species.  At FKWBC, I might handle and otherwise work with over twenty species in a day.  The variety of species, the individual-specific care, and all the skills and knowledge I gained have all made me a far more relevant candidate in my job searches since my time with FKWBC."

These days, Jesse does seasonal field work and is currently developing his own tiny infrared camera system to record continuous 24 hour videos inside red-headed woodpecker nest cavities to help figure out what the birds do with egg shells, fecal sacs, and to capture predation events!

Rosemary Rice, May 2018


"This internship was everything I could have hoped for in a wildlife internship. Before starting, I had always thought birds were interesting and just fun things to watch but during my time in the keys, I learned that I have a deep passion for conservation through rehabilitation. The team was very open to hands-on training and allowed me to take on personal projects. I was able to reintroduce the resident Barred owl, Leopold, to glove behaviors and now he is out doing events and educating people on how cool he is!

I am currently working at a specialty vet hospital in Tampa Fl that I got through my clinical experience at the bird center and am learning more skills that will help me in future conservation opportunities. Thank you Florida Keys Wild Bird Center!"

Nick Annese, July 2018

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“My name is Nick and I am originally from Montvale, New Jersey.  I had

the pleasure of interning with the Florida Keys Wild Bird Sanctuary

from July 2018 to December 2018. Since working at the Wild Bird

Center, I have completed an environmental education internship with

Grafton Lakes State Park where I gained more experience teaching the

public about the importance and beauty of the environment.  I spent this

past summer working at a summer camp in North Carolina called Camp

Don Lee where I challenged campers to build a strong community and to

trust each other while also educating them about nature.  Soon I will be

heading out to Nevada to work as an education and outreach coordinator

for a company called Envirolution.  


My favorite thing about working at the wild bird sanctuary was feeding the birds, specifically the pelicans and the screech owls, and creating enrichment.  My favorite thing about working at the bird hospital was going out to rescue injured birds.  My favorite bird at the sanctuary was the Sandhill Crane because I enjoyed hearing his call every day.  My advice to any new interns is to be open with the staff if you have interest in different opportunities with the center including education, outreach, and training the resident birds at the sanctuary.  Also be prepared for random rain storms when working at the sanctuary. (:”

Chelsey Peeler, August 2018

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"I began doing wildlife rehabilitation in 2014 as part of my college education and earned a degree in Wildlife Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Rehabilitation. In 2016, I began a part time zookeeping job at a local park. After I graduated in 2018 and began solely doing zookeeping, I realized how desperately I missed rehab! I put out tons of internship applications for many different jobs before finding the FKWBC and I wouldn’t trade my experience there for the world. I’ve always loved birds, but working with them every day made me appreciate them so much more. It was fascinating to learn different rehabilitation techniques from what I learned in college and work with so many new species!

While interning at the FKWBC, my favorite thing to do was programs, especially with Leopold. I also enjoyed going on rescues. My favorite story to tell people is one where a vulture had gotten stuck up under a dock at night.

It was dark and the dock was only about 3 feet tall, so I was crawling under

the dock in the water. Once I reached the bird, I had him in one hand, a

flashlight in my mouth, and was using the other hand to crawl. The vulture

was very angry, but we got himto safety and released him a few days later!


​Since leaving FKWBC, I have maintained my job at Rowan Wild caring for

native North Carolina wildlife including black bears, foxes, birds of prey,

bobcats, etc. I have also obtained a job at the North Carolina Zoo as a

school program and camp educator. It has been a learning curve to do

virtual camps and programs due to the pandemic, but interesting

experience to gain!"



Cara Newstead, March 2019

"My internship experience at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center was one of the greatest things to happen in my life. I got to work hands on with incredible and diverse species of wild birds. I learned about wildlife education and positive reinforcement training, while being able to implement the information I was learning into things such as, leading sanctuary tours and creating a training program for a permanent resident bird. The invaluable education and experience I was able to walk away with is abundant, due to the dedicated staff and teachers that help interns to flourish. On top of the internship itself, are the amazing lifelong friendships that developed throughout my time there.

It has been a year since I left my beloved bird center and I miss it every day! I am currently working as a veterinary receptionist for a busy animal hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am working towards becoming a certified wildlife rehabber through the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. I hope to work with as many different species of animals as possible, including; mammals, marine life, reptiles, amphibians, and of course....BIRDS!"


To apply for an internship, complete the Internship Application and send to 

Please include your resume and cover letter.

Click here to read about our internship program!

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